257. Memorandum of Conversation1

    • Henry A. Kissinger
    • Ambassador Dobrynin

I met with Dobrynin at his request. He began the conversation by saying the recent alleviation of trade restrictions had been noted in Moscow as a very positive development.2 He wondered, however, whether one could not reinforce those measures by easing some of the harassment of Soviet ships in American ports.3 He could assure me that the Soviet Union would reciprocate immediately if we eased our restrictions on Soviet ships in American ports. I told him I would look into the matter and let him know within two weeks.

Dobrynin then handed me a note which he had been instructed to give to the U.S. Government on the convening of a Five-Power conference with respect to nuclear disarmament.4 He asked me whether I could take official delivery of the note. I told him that since it would [Page 769] require a formal reply, I suggested that it be taken to the State Department. Dobrynin then added that it would make a very good impression in Moscow if he could deliver it personally to the President. It would not require a long meeting, and the fact that he was received by the President would be taken as a positive interest at the highest level. I told him I didn’t know what I could do on such short notice, but I would do my best.5

Dobrynin then said that in view of the upcoming conversations with Brandt and Bahr,6 he wanted to let me have some formulations on Berlin (Tab I)7 which the Soviet side would find acceptable, and he hoped that I would use my influence with the Germans. I said I would have to study them. I also said I would talk to Bahr and Rush in great detail and have a brief meeting of Rush, Dobrynin and myself set up for Monday.8

As Dobrynin left, he said he could not understand the motive behind the publication of the documents in the New York Times.9 As far as he could tell, it would hurt the Democrats a lot more than the Republicans except insofar as it might influence the McGovern/Hatfield vote.10 Dobrynin said that he continued to hold to his belief that the President’s domestic position was growing stronger.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 491, President’s Trip Files, Dobrynin/Kissinger, 1971, Vol. 6 [part 1]. Top Secret; Sensitive. Young submitted this memorandum and another summarizing it for the President to Kissinger on June 18. Kissinger then forwarded both to Nixon on June 21. Notations on the memoranda indicate that the President saw them. The meeting was held in the Map Room at the White House. According to Kissinger’s Record of Schedule, the meeting lasted from 5:11 to 5:47 p.m. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 438, Miscellany, 1968–76)
  2. See footnote 3, Document 255.
  3. Dobrynin is probably referring to the legal case of a Soviet freighter, Suleyman Stalsky, in California. In a June 10 memorandum to Kissinger, Sonnenfeldt reported that the Stalsky had been “arrested in Alameda last evening and was served with a writ of attachment in connection with alleged damages by Soviet vessels to U.S. lobster fishermen in the North Atlantic.” Kissinger wrote in the margin of the memorandum: “We should be as helpful as possible.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 715, Country Files, Europe, USSR, Vol. XIII) Dobrynin formally protested the “unlawful detention” of the Soviet ship in a letter to Rogers on June 13. (Ibid.) No evidence has been found that the United States formally intervened in the case. A U.S. District Judge in San Francisco, however, dissolved the writ of attachment two days later, allowing the Stalsky to leave the harbor that evening. (Memorandum from Sonnenfeldt to Kissinger, June 16; ibid.)
  4. Kissinger assessed the Soviet note in a June 25 memorandum to the President. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–186, National Security Study Memoranda, NSSM 132) The note and the memorandum—as well as other documentation on the proposal for a five-power disarmament conference—are published in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume E–2, Documents on Arms Control and Nonproliferation, 1969–1972.
  5. See Document 260.
  6. According to the President’s Daily Diary, Nixon met Brandt on June 15 from 11:02 a.m. to 12:34 p.m.; Kissinger and Bahr both joined the meeting at 11:13. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Central Files) A tape recording of the conversation is ibid., White House Tapes, Conversation 520–6. Excerpts from the conversation are printed in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XL, Germany and Berlin, 1969–1972, Document 254.
  7. Attached but not printed. The text of the formulations at Tab I is printed ibid., Document 253.
  8. June 21.
  9. Reference is to the secret “Pentagon Papers” on the Vietnam war, which the New York Times began to publish on June 13.
  10. An amendment to the military draft extension bill sponsored by Senators George McGovern (D–South Dakota) and Mark Hatfield (R–Oregon), which sought to eliminate all funding for U.S. troop activity in Southeast Asia other than withdrawal by the end of 1971. The Senate defeated the amendment in a roll-call vote (42–55) on June 16.